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Urban Agriculture Roundup

Anna Bowen

This month marked the inaugural Urban Agriculture Summit in Toronto featuring Will Allen as keynote speaker, author of the Good Food Revolution and founder of Growing Power, Inc. On his website he says, “My vision is to have this world where everyone has access to good food … my work is to help to make that happen.”

Allen runs an intensive agriculture program on a 3-acre piece of land in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that serves as a breeding ground for good food growing practices and also models an apiary and aquaculture initiatives, while offering workshops and demos. Allen was named one of Time Magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people in 2010.   Growing Power now has sites in four American cities, including Chicago, Ill, and has five satellite locations across the States.  The Summit was organized by Toronto’s own Food Share and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, organizations at the forefront of connecting community and food security in the city.

Montreal also had a public consultation in May about Urban Agriculture in their city, and local markets are popping up around town, reports rabble.ca.  Quebec was recently the site of some fancy urban farming resistance, as a gardening couple in Drummondville, Que, staged a “bed-in” to protest bylaws that prohibit growing food in residents’ front yards.  The result was that the mayor is now allowing food-growing front lawns as long as the gardens are framed. And in Winnipeg this week, residents and urban planners were dreaming up a large-scale urban agriculture and beekeeping vision during an informal summit as part of a redesign for the old CP Rail’s central yards.

Urban ag. fever is also present in Vancouver, reports the Tyee, where, like in Toronto, urban farmers are cultivating backyards to grow food.  The newly coined term SPIN (Small Plot INntensive) represents more than just growing food in your own backyard, but includes micro farming and smart business practices on urban land. Spinfarming.com claims that SPIN’s “precise revenue targeting formulas and organic-based techniques make it possible to gross $50,000+ from a half-acre.” (Well, $50,000 may be a bit of a stretch, but this Kelowna, BC farmer was able to earn $15,000 in a season from one 2,000 sq. ft plot).

The next big conference, Cities Alive, a green roof & wall conference, and takes place in Chicago from October 17-20, 2012.

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